On Monday night, Iowa voters will head to their local caucuses to help decide which presidential candidates will win the state’s delegates. Though any of the 12 remaining Republican candidates could, in theory, collect the delegates, recent polls show that they will likely go to either hotel mogul Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
While winning the Iowa caucus doesn’t necessarily mean winning the nomination, the victory will bring the victorious candidate more media attention, endorsements, and momentum for his conservative agenda.
Here is where Cruz and Trump stand on 10 important issues. Iowa voters will likely be endorsing one of these platforms Monday night:
The son of a Cuban immigrant, Cruz frequently talks about the need to secure the border and end sanctuary cities. Opponents have targeted him for once supporting “amnesty,” but Cruz has never and still does not support a path to citizenship for the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. And he does not think the United States should accept any Syrian refugees.
Since he called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “murderers” when launching his campaign, Trump has become even more anti-immigrant. He wants to build a wall on the southern border, and have Mexico pay for it. And he has called for a ban on all Muslims entering the country, going a step further than the candidates’ who want to reject refugees.
Cruz is staunchly anti-abortion and has worked in Texas to make it harder for women to receive abortions. As solicitor general of the state, he defended a federal law that bans partial birth abortion. He has helped lead the Senate crusade to defund Planned Parenthood and he has also said that one of the first things he will do in office is launch a federal investigation into the women’s health organization.
Unlike Cruz, Trump has said he supports taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, though he later denied those comments and backed the defunding effort. Still, he has defended the women’s health organization, noting that the majority of the services it provides surround sexually transmitted disease testing, not abortion. And while he once told reporters that he was “very pro-choice”, he has recently said that he opposes abortion and has been pro-life for a long time.
Cruz is campaigning on a promise of ignoring or overturning the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. Cruz has also spoken out strongly against granting equal rights to transgender people, and has opposed laws that would protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination. He has received endorsements from several anti-LGBT religious organizations.
Trump’s record on LGBT rights is mixed. He once supported the right of same-sex couples to have civil union, but later reversed that position. He also recently vowed to choose judicial appointees who could overturn the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. Yet he has consistently supported expanding laws to protect gay and trans workers from discrimination, and has said the 1964 Civil Rights Act should be amended to include sexual orientation.
Cruz is the worst denier of all the climate change-denying Republican candidates. He refuses to agree with the 97 percent of climate scientists who agree that the planet is warming, instead choosing to cite discredited satellite data. Cruz has also introduced legislation that would expand oil and gas drilling, approve the Keystone XL pipeline, prevent the federal government from regulating fracking, and curtail EPA regulations.
Trump does not seem to fully understand the issue. He has said that he is not a believer and “unless somebody can prove something to me, I believe there’s weather.” He also frequently tries to use cold weather to prove that climate change is not real and argues that it’s a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.
Cruz has long opposed government funding for social and educational programs that help the nation’s poor. He has said employers should be allowed to deny their employees paid family leave, and has criticized proposals to make a college education tuition-free. When asked in a debate how he would address the gender pay gap, he avoided answering.
On the campaign trail, Trump frequently references the nation’s high rates of poverty and unemployment. Yet when pressed on how he would address the problem, he has offered few details. Yet unlike many of his rivals, he has pledged to protect Social Security and Medicare, programs that support many low-income Americans.
Cruz released a plan for a 10 percent flat tax — a model that would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Americans. The plan would also end many deductions that benefit low income residents, while maintaining deductions for mortgage interest and charitable giving, which are mainly used by those who make more than $100,000 per year. The corporate tax rate would also be slashed from 35 to 16 percent. The plan would also offer some relief for lower-income Americans, however, by expanding the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit.
Trump’s tax plan would benefit the nation’s wealthiest citizens, including Trump. Though the plan cuts the income tax to zero for those who make below $25,000 a year, it also would lower his own income tax from the current 39.6 percent rate to 25 percent. Taxes on his U.S. corporate profits would plummet to just 15 percent, while the vast amount Trump earns from his investments would be taxed at just 20 percent. The plan also includes the elimination of the estate tax, which would allow Trump to pass on hundreds of millions to his children tax-free.
Cruz loves to say that he will repeal “every last word of Obamacare.” But he doesn’t like to talk about what he would do when millions of Americans lose their coverage. Instead, he repeats the false claim that Obamacare has raised premiums and caused millions to lose their part-time jobs. If Cruz were to be elected president, millions of Americans would lose their health insurance — and he doesn’t have a plan to stop it.
It’s not entirely clear where Trump stands on health care. He claims Obamacare has been a “bigger disaster than anyone thought” and that he will replace it with a “beautiful” private system. But he also said this week that the federal Medicare program should be able to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, which would give the government more control over the health care market.
Cruz has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association. He frequently holds Second Amendment rallies and speaks about how you can only “stop bad guys by using our guns.” And he loves to spread the conspiracy theory that the government is trying to take away people’s guns. In Congress, he has helped to lead the defense of gun rights and helped to vote down gun legislation year after year.
Though he once supported an assault weapons ban and a longer waiting period to purchase a firearm, Trump is now staunchly pro-gun. His Second Amendment platform, released last year, is essentially modeled off the NRA’s agenda. “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed upon. Period,” it says. He has also said he would “un-sign” Obama’s executive action on guns.
Cruz has called for “carpet bombing” and “saturation bombing” regions of Iraq and Syria controlled by ISIS — a tactic that would be a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. After November’s terrorist attack in Paris, he called for conducting airstrikes with less concern for civilian casualties.
Trump has vowed, if elected, to target and assassinate not only members of ISIS, but their civilian family members as well — which would constitute a war crime. He has also called for a database of all Muslims in the U.S.
Cruz has worked in the senate to restrict the National Security Agency’s ability to collect the phone and e-mail data of U.S. residents, arguing that this practice violates the Constitution. But civil liberties advocates have criticized Cruz for not going far enough, and the NSA reform bill Cruz sponsored in the senate could lock in several domestic spying practices.
In the balance between privacy and national security, Trump has said: “I tend to err on the side of security.” Trump wants to restore the full surveillance powers of the federal government under the Patriot Act, rolling back reforms that limited the amount of phone metadata the NSA can collect from Americans.
This post has been updated to add that Donald Trump now supports defunding Planned Parenthood and reversing marriage equality.